10 Weirdest Movie Endings Of All Time

A film’s ending is arguably its most important aspect, and, from Ari Aster to Darren Aronofsky, plenty of filmmakers have made names for themselves partly due to their weird, conversation-starting finales.

Audiences usually love a clear-cut conclusion in which the good guys win and the bad guys get what’s coming to them, but, in some films, there are no good or bad guys, and there are no decisive endings. From avant-garde psychiatric measures to sci-fi flights through space and time, these are some of the absolute weirdest movies ever committed to film.


10 American Psycho (2000)

An adaptation of the 1991 Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, American Psycho was arguably intended as a critic of American consumer culture and primarily pointed the finger at New York’s upper crust. That said, much of the book—and the 2000 film on which it was based—is open for interpretation.

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The ending is particularly weird. After going on a rampage and killing several people, Patrick Bateman makes an over-the-phone confession that is, despite its frantic transparency, taken to be a joke. In the end, though he now wants to escape his outrageous lifestyle, a sign seen just behind him points out what he’s come to discover: this is not an exit.

9 Brazil (1985)

Terry Gilliam’s 1985 bleakly satirical dystopian film Brazil was weird throughout, but its anti-corporate, anti-authoritarian messaging always remained clear. Sort of a Monty Python-esque take on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, it gets to be pretty grim at points, and the ending was so dissatisfying that, according to SlashFilm, the studio demanded that it be changed.

During the final sequence, the protagonist is tortured in an interrogation chamber, but he’s saved by a band of rebels led by Robert DeNiro. In Gilliam’s ending, this escape is revealed to have been a hallucination dreamed up in the protagonist’s final moments.

8 Hereditary (2018)

The first of horror up-and-comer Ari Aster’s one-two punch of weird-out psychological thrillers, 2018’s Hereditary saw a family, already stricken by the death of a grandmother, sent reeling when a daughter dies in a freak accident. Both mother and son are then led down a bizarre rabbit hole in which the laws of life and death seemingly no longer apply.

In the end, it is revealed that all of the death and deception the family endured were at the behest of the grandmother, who lead a coven of witches. Everything seen in the movie was part of a plot to summon a demon, and the final sequence reveals that the plan was a total success.

7 Annihilation (2018)

An Alex Garland-directed adaptation of Jeff Vandomeers 2014 weird fiction hit, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman who plays a nameless woman who joins a brigade of wayward scientists into an anomalous territory known as Area X. Once inside, they are accosted by all manner of biological horrors, and Portman’s character uncovers information regarding the disappearance of her husband, who went into Area X in a previous expedition.

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The ending is tough to parse, but Portman’s character discovers an alien entity holed up in a lighthouse that can perfectly copy living beings. In the end, the protagonist and her husband are reunited, though it’s strongly hinted that they are both copies of the original characters.

6 Shutter Island (2010)

Best known for relatively grounded classics like Raging Bull and Goodfellas, the 2010 psychological thriller Sutter Island was a bit of a departure for acclaimed director Martin Scorsese. Starring Leonardo DeCaprio, it tells the tale of a U.S. Marshall and his partner who come to a secluded asylum to investigate the suspicious disappearance of a patient.

Things unravel, however, when the patient is found, and she warns the investigators that her imprisonment was a farce and to be wary of a lighthouse. In the end, it’s revealed that DiCaprio’s character was a patient at the asylum all along, and the whole investigation was a ruse to get him to snap out of his delusional state.

5 Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Initially framed as an Evil Dead-esque horror romp, 2011’s Cabin in the Woods subverts all horror movie expectations early on, revealing that what seemed to be a tropey horror setup was being carefully orchestrated by a secretive government agency that must adhere to a strange sacrificial ritual to appease Elder Gods slumbering within the Earth.

In one final twist, the plot fails, and the teens involved in the sacrifice choose to not go along with it, allowing these gods to break free. Cabin in the Woods was a strange tale that subverted every convention of the genre while managing to be a pretty compelling horror movie all the while.

4 Black Swan (2010)

Sometimes considered as a companion piece to Darren Aronofsky’s 2008 film The Wrestler, Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as a ballet dancer desperate to claim the leading role in a production of Swan Lake. However, though she’s suitable for half of the role, the director believes she’s too inhibited to play the role of the Black Swan.

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Partially at the behest of her mother, the protagonist pushes herself beyond breaking point and begins experiencing hallucinations. During the production, she believes to have fatally stabbed her long-term rival and hidden the body, though, in actuality, she stabbed herself. In the end, she gives a flawless performance and seemingly dies right after the final act, having given herself completely and totally to the role.

3 Fight Club (1999)

Arguably director David Fincher’s magnum opus, 1999’s Fight Club, an adaptation of a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk, stars Edward Norton as a nameless narrator who escapes from his listless existence with the help of Tyler Durden, an eccentric new friend. Together, they form a club in which the participants let out their aggression by fighting each other. However, Durden soon militarized the group, using it to enact terrorist activities across the United States.

In the film’s third act, it is revealed that Durden was a figment of the narrator’s imagination created to get him to do the outlandish things he was too meek to enact. In the end, Durden’s plot to demolish several banking firms is successful, and the film ends with the narrator “killing” Durden while helpless to stop the destruction.

2 Donnie Darko (1988)

A cult psychological horror thriller, Donnie Darko was perhaps overshadowed by more well-remembered films that would premiere in the genre in the ensuing years. However, arguably laying the groundwork for everything from Fight Club to Inception, it remains an important project that fans of cerebral pseudo-horror need to see.

The ending of Donnie Darko is very difficult to interpret, though, from what can immediately be pieced together, it seems that the titular character went back in time to sacrifice himself to save the lives of several others, or, if the deranged rabbit-man Frank is to be believed—to prevent the end of the world.

1 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Hands down the strangest endings to any film ever, Stanely Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey explores a future in which mankind has developed a kind of advanced space travel. They soon discover an alien monolith on the moon, and an expedition is carried out to locate another one orbiting Jupiter.

The expedition is fraught with peril and nearly sabotaged by the sentient AI HAL 9000, leaving only David Bowman alive. Bowman eventually discovers the new monolith, which seemingly transports him through space and time, briefly stopping at his death. There, he is transformed into some kind of fetus and set adrift in Earth’s orbit as some sort of “guardian.”

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